A team of researchers from UNIST and Nanyang Technological University has made important progress in using low-grade heat for energy conversion. They have developed a Thermally Regenerative Electrochemical Cycle (TREC) system that can convert small temperature differences into usable energy. Traditional energy-harvesting systems struggle to use low-grade heat effectively, but the TREC system combines battery functionality with thermal-energy-harvesting capabilities to provide a solution. The researchers focused on the role of structural vibration modes to enhance the effectiveness of TREC systems. They found that even small amounts of water can cause strong vibrations within the system, leading to improved energy conversion. The team created a highly efficient TREC system using a sodium-ion-based electrolyte. The applications for TREC systems are vast, particularly in wearable technologies and devices with small temperature differences. By efficiently capturing and converting low-grade heat, TREC systems have the potential to be used in next-generation secondary batteries. The research findings have been published ahead of their official publication in the online version of Advanced Materials on July 3, 2023. The research received support from the 2023 Research Fund of UNIST and the National Research Foundation of Korea.

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